Erik Compton: The Heart of the Matter

Erik Compton's play and perspective saved a boring U.S. Open that a marvelous Martin Kaymer won by eight strokes. Compton, 34, the 187th-ranked player who has had two heart transplants, gave a gutty performance to tie for second place. And then he won our hearts with his post-round comments.

Someone in the office this morning mentioned that last weekend's U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 had to be "the most boring Open ever." I couldn't argue. No one made a move on Martin Kaymer, who ended up winning by eight strokes and leading wire-to-wire.

This lack of drama, however, set the stage for a refreshing dose of gratitude in the form of Erik Compton, 34, the 187th-ranked player entering the tournament. He's had two heart transplants, and yet he gave a gutty performance to tie for second place. His swing is a bit wobbly, and he had plenty of ups and downs. But he kept at it, finishing strong on golf's biggest stage, showing himself and us that he's got heart and game. "I scared myself into thinking I can play this game," he said in his press conference (see video) after the final round.

"Every day's a gift."

It was in that press conference that he won the hearts of fans whose hearts he hadn't won over during the tournament. He reminded a win-only sports world (that can easily lose its bearings) of that aphorism: "Every day's a gift; that's why they call it the present."

Nothing to Prove

How many athletes feel satisfied after finishing second, which is a major accomplishment at something like a golf major? Compton did, saying: "I don't have anything to really prove to anybody any more. I mean, if I never played golf again for the rest of my life, I think that I've made my mark in this game."


Compton also said his heart issues have helped his golf, which showed on the final hole when his approach shot was terrible but his up-and-down was superb. "When you have disabilities or you have health issues, some days are really bad and you got to try to make the best of it the next day and then wake up and move your body. And I'm a perfect example of that. I mean, I've been on my back twice, and I never thought I'd leave the house. And now I just finished second at the U.S. Open. I don't think anyone ever thought I'd do that, not even myself. So you can't ever write yourself off; you just can't give up."


Have you returned to golf after a major surgery? After the surgery, did you and your game changed in any way?

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